Tips for cold water swimming

You don't have to stop swimming outdoors during the winter.

You don't have to stop swimming outdoors during the winter.

The weather may be cold, but that hasn't stopped many devoted swimmers from going on their weekly polar bear plunge. If you're trying to switch up your swimming routine or are training for a late spring triathlon, you may find yourself in a frigid body of water. 

Here are a few tips to keep you warm and safe during cold water swimming:

  • Gradually increase your exposure – It's not wise or even safe to jump into icy water if you've never done it before. You may want to start off by simply wading in cold water and then move on to short and then long swims.
  • Train on land - There are other ways to prepare you body for this type of swimming like taking cold showers and ice baths. 
  • Put in earplugs – These help keep your body temperature up and prevent the general discomfort that caused by having cold water in your ears.
  • Use neoprene products – Neoprene is a better insulator than latex, so you should use caps and possibly swimming socks made of this material. 
  • Wear two swim caps – You lose most of your body heat through your head, and this is no different when you're swimming. The extra protection for your head will help keep valuable heat from escaping. 
  • Wear a full-body wetsuit – A frigid river or lake is no place just to be wearing a racing swimsuit. The full-body variety will keep heat from escaping from your armpits and protect your extremities. 

It is also important to remember that you shouldn't be alone in open water. If you can't find a swimming buddy, you should at least have someone on land who can quickly provide help of it's necessary.